did i tell you that i got a fondue set for christmas? well i did. from chris' mama. and being the heathen that i am, i thought that fondue was all about gooey cheese and bread. but it's not! apparently the type that i have is specifically for bourguignonne (hot oil stylee) and court bouillon (hot broth) fondues. awesome!

we started out with a bastardisation of pho bo kho and a slew of tasty treats with which to dip, including carpaccio of beef marinated in chilli, lime and mint; broccoli, snowpeas and oyster and swiss brown mushrooms. mm-mmm.

the pho went like this:

1. take 1 medium yellow onion, chop finely and sauté gently for about five minutes
2. add 1 teaspoon of chinese five-spice powder, a grated knob of ginger, 1 teaspoon of brown sugar, 2 tablespoons fish sauce, a bay leaf and a hefty stalk of lemongrass cut into inch-long pieces and bashed with the flat of yo knife
3. let it bubble away a bit till it smells lovely
4. add a tin of tomatoes, half a teaspoon of salt and reduce for around ten minutes
5. throw in 2 star anise and half a litre of fresh beef stock and simmer for five more minutes
6. stir in a handful of coriander and mint leaves and pour it into your christmas present
meat, glorious meat

adam and i had a vegetarian-free dinner last night.
i was still thinking about it when i woke up this morning.

lightly pound boneless skinless chicken breast
season one side with salt and pepper
i had no fresh sage, so i used thyme (weird, but it worked)
roll up the breast
wrap in pancetta
cook in 1 tbsp oil, turning frequently, until browned
cover and cook over low heat 20 mins or until cooked.

i finally splurged and invested in a really good olive oil. it was totally worth it.
how to handle heavy-handed herb hassle

if you're like me, and you like fresh herbs but can't wrap your head around the overly ambitious pre-ordained bundle size of your local fruit and veggie stand, there is hope. picked up a ridiculous amount of basil the other day and kneaded it into a batch of fresh pasta* that both alleviated my conscience and my tattered nerves.

mix about 1 1/2 cups of flour and some good salt.
make the well.
pour in two eggs (medium beaten) and a cup of well-chopped basil.

mix together and knead on lightly floured surface (adding water and flour as needed) for about ten minutes, or until you have a nice little ball.

wrap in a damp, warm towel and let rest about 15 minutes.
have fun.

i made some fat old dudes and served 'em up with oven roasted tomatoes and the usual fixins.

*caution: making fresh pasta may result in loved ones requesting it constantly.